Number of guns in the US - need help


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.cheese.
July 23, 2007, 01:29 AM
I got curious and decided to try to come up with a decent number for the number of guns in the US.

So I took the 200 million estimate of 1994 done by NCJRS, which was based on a phone survey and is one of the better sources of data up until 1994 (to my knowledge).

Then, using the ATF statistics/records, I started adding on top of that for the years 1998 - 2005 (which is currently available). I summed the total manufactured and then substracted the number exported. To fill in the years 1995-1997 and the years 2006 and 2007 I am going to use a simple mean of the 98-05 numbers as there isn't a huge range between the numbers. It seems to be relatively constant (relatively of course).

The roadblock I've hit though is that the ATF records list machine guns. The ATF doesn't register newly manufactured machine guns to civilians via the NFA due to the Firearm Owners Protection Act (I believe was the one). So you know those are for law enforcement, and some of the other guns too. I'm trying to get a rough idea of how many guns manufactured per year go to law enforcement. Surely there must be some statistic on weapon purchases by LE agencies annually? Basically, I'll subtract that before adding on the new weapons estimate for 94-07 to get my number.

I know this isn't exactly scientific, but it's just to satisfy my own curiosity and get a rough idea.

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Apple a Day
July 23, 2007, 07:49 AM
Since equipment is bought at the national level out of national funds, at the state level/state patrol out of state funds, and at the county/city department level out of county/city funds you're going to have a job of putting all of that together. At the local level I don't think there's a set schedule for replacement. You might have better luck asking the main manufacturers.
Good luck.

jeepmor
July 23, 2007, 07:57 AM
In the hands of the patriots, not enough.

AntiqueCollector
July 23, 2007, 09:21 AM
There have been so many guns made for or bought by civilians since the 1770's in this country that I don't think there is any way of knowing how many there are now, the records to determine the numbers simply didn't exist for most of this country's history...

And to throw a monkey wrench into the machine gun issue...class III dealers can and do get to have "samples" (which many dealers like to "test" well) while dealers and I would sort of consider that to be civillian possession of a machine gun, as I doubt most class III dealers will side with the government if they start confiscating guns, etc.

Art Eatman
July 23, 2007, 10:52 AM
Do you think the number of full-auto guns into cop shops is statistically significant? I rather doubt it.

The last time I looked at BATF numbers, civilians bought millions of guns per year. I'd bet that the cops got a very few thousand, total. And some of those were government surplus.

Art

Librarian
July 23, 2007, 12:33 PM
So I took the 200 million estimate of 1994 done by NCJRS, which was based on a phone survey and is one of the better sources of data up until 1994 (to my knowledge).Which NCJRS pub?

I have what appears to be the same data, but in Kleck's Targeting Guns, 1997, Table 3.1.

His line item for 1994 reads
Net additions
handguns: 3,752,257
long guns: 3,190,778
Cumulated stock
handguns: 84,665,690
total: 235,604,001

I added the ATF data for 98-2005, and I estimated 95-97 similarly to what you did. See attached simple graph.

Let Excel project a few years on, and it looks like 1 gun per person in the country in about 2008.

Gotta get those distributed a bit more evenly... :)

geekWithA.45
July 23, 2007, 12:37 PM
It's reasonable to assume that there's a firearm for every man, woman, child, and infant in the US.

The arsenal of liberty isn't in the barracks. It's in our closets.

SoCalShooter
July 23, 2007, 01:29 PM
It's reasonable to assume that there's a firearm for every man, woman, child, and infant in the US.

The arsenal of liberty isn't in the barracks. It's in our closets.

That is a really awesome quote!! And how very true and at this point I would say we have about 2 for every one citizen.

Librarian
July 23, 2007, 02:10 PM
That is a really awesome quote!! And how very true and at this point I would say we have about 2 for every one citizen.You think there's about 300 million with no paper?

Kleck attributes the ~47 million total number as of 1945 to Zimring; I don't know how Zimring got that number. (Firearms and Violence in American Life, 1969, doesn't seem to be on line.)

A couple of 10's of millions - GI bringbacks, smuggled in, etc. - I can credit. Of course, with no paper, it's not possible to tell, but hundreds of millions just doesn't feel right. I'd expect attitudes towards guns to be more neutral across the population if so many guns were actually out there.

.cheese.
July 23, 2007, 10:34 PM
Librarian - thanks for the help. :)

Here is the .txt version of the document:

http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles/165476.txt



Key findings: The survey data and analysis yielded
the following results:

o In 1994, 44 million Americans owned 192 million
firearms, 65 million of which were handguns.
Although there were enough guns to have provided
every U.S. adult with one, only 25 percent of
adults actually owned firearms; 74 percent of gun
owners possessed two or more.

....... (it goes on quite a bit with additional findings)

I did come to a realization ..... which is that due to the fact that guns are not just durable goods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durable_good), but extremely durable goods, as can be seen by the number of former WWI and WWII guns still in functional existence. Therefore, whatever guns go to LE, or military, a decent number will eventually be redistributed into the civilian realm except for a small number which don't make it. For example, an officer retains his or her gun into retirement.... or.... sells it.

Art - you're probably right. It's probably not statistically all that significant. Just was trying to get a semi-ballpark number.

.cheese.
July 23, 2007, 11:08 PM
so the magic number seems to be approximately 224 million (or ~223,766,410) as of the moment (2007).

That's estimating for the years 95-97 and 2006 and removing machine guns from the first few years when that data was available. I'm not sure if the ATF just lumped them under rifles after 2001 as the data was no longer listed for them after that year.

Also, seeing that 2007 hasn't ended, I didn't include it.

I also tested to see whether a moving average would produce significantly different results. It didn't.

Librarian
July 23, 2007, 11:23 PM
Here is the .txt version of the document:

http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles/165476.txt
Agh! it burns! :fire: :cool:

No, I'd just forgotten that the Cook/Ludwig NSPOF thing had anything but their much regretted confirmation of Kleck's DGU numbers, using a different data set.

.cheese.
July 24, 2007, 12:20 AM
interestingly enough, the Department of Justice came to the same number I did, a year after the '94 survey.

So it is possible my estimate is conservative.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/guic.txt

.cheese.
July 24, 2007, 01:43 AM
with ~224 million guns in the US, these claims that there are multiple guns for every man, woman, and child seem unlikely at best and unfounded at worst.

Even using the Dept. of Justice estimate of placing the 223 million mark at '95 it seems unlikely for the number to be larger than 1 per person.....

Personally I'm getting per capita gun ownership as being ~.74

and while my numbers are sure to not be 100% precise, to jump to 302.5 million guns in 12 years of even the Department of Justice's number seems like a leap to me.

Then again that's just my opinion.

Librarian
July 24, 2007, 02:28 AM
My guesstimate for 2005 [ 1994 + estimate 95-97 + ATF 98-05 ] is about 283 million; with 292 million people estimated by Census Bureau, that's about 0.96 guns per person. Extended trendline for guns crosses extended population growth at about 317 million in 2013 - 1 gun : 1 person.

Just a guess, of course.

We may be reaching saturation - high was about 7 million guns purchased in 1994 - anticipating AWB, I guess - and 2005 was 2.8 million. The high values in the 90's look like an aberration; the rate of increase in privately held firearms has been decreasing since about 1980.

.cheese.
July 24, 2007, 11:41 AM
Librarian, for the ATF records, did you subtract exports for each year?

Even so though, you're still coming to essentially the same conclusion which is that these claims we see all over the place about there being more than one gun for every man, woman, and child in the US are ridiculous.

A search revealed Harvard Magazine saying it.... a bunch of anti blogs.... I could have sworn I've seen the Brady Center say it.

I really can't see it being the case with the numbers that are out there.

Librarian
July 24, 2007, 02:43 PM
Librarian, for the ATF records, did you subtract exports for each year?

Even so though, you're still coming to essentially the same conclusion which is that these claims we see all over the place about there being more than one gun for every man, woman, and child in the US are ridiculouYes, I did, for the ATF reports on line; I expect that happened for the Kleck data, but I didn't compile that.

The only interesting thing about the number of guns question is how it gets used politically. There's a claim that more guns causes more deaths.

Murder is generally accepted as a good indicator of overall violent crime. It's serious and gets investigated, very seldom ignored. So calculations of murder rates per 100,000 are thought to be useful comparisons year-to-year, and the trends in rates seem to be useful descriptive data.

When it comes to the absolute number of guns, murder rates appear to have no correlation. The simple more guns = more gun murders relationship doesn't work.

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